A public hearing will be held Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 7, 4 p.m., in the House Community Safety, Justice and Reentry Committee on a bill introduced by Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale, that seeks to provide additional tools to help locate and recover missing persons.
House Bill 1512 is also known as the “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Persons and Lucian Act.” The bill is a recommendation from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People (MMIWP) Task Force and the Office of the Attorney General. It recognizes missing and murdered indigenous people, an issue Mosbrucker brought to the forefront in legislation she first sponsored in 2018.
After discussions with the family, Mosbrucker said it was decided to also name the bill after Lucian Munguia. The four-year-old was reported missing on Sept. 10 from Sarg Hubbard Park. After an extensive search, his body was discovered Dec. 29 in the Yakima River about seven miles from where he disappeared. The little boy apparently drowned.
Mosbrucker was among the many community members who searched for the young boy.
“When I was involved in this search, I realized there is no single place that the family could go to find resources. While our local responders and search volunteers were doing all they could to find this little boy, the family struggled to find answers about the process of what should happen next. Lucian’s family members and I felt this needs to change so we can help other families in the future,” said Mosbrucker.
The bill would require the Office of the Attorney General to publish and maintain on its website a missing persons toolkit that contains regularly updated information related to locating and recovering missing persons.
“We want to have a resource available to the public about the immediate actions that need to take place when someone vanishes, like writing down every detail you remember, and uploading photos of the missing person to databases, such as the Travis Alert System, and immediately accessing the NamUs National Missing and Unidentified Persons System,” said Mosbrucker “This would be a statewide toolkit that could help to save lives, bring loved ones home, and be available to all families.”
Among some of the information included, the toolkit would provide:
- an explanation of how to report a missing person to an applicable law enforcement agency;
- an overview of the kinds of information that may be helpful to provide when reporting a missing person;
- additional steps that may be taken to assist with recovering a missing person once a report has been made;
- suggestions and resources for navigating difficulties that are commonly encountered during the process of reporting and recovering a missing person;
- a list of counseling resources and assistance to family members, friends and community members of missing persons;
- information developed in consultation with the Washington State Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Task Force for reporting and recovering missing indigenous people; and
- information specifically tailored to reporting and recovering missing persons who are vulnerable due to age, health, or a mental or physical disability.
The bill directs the Attorney General’s office to publish the toolkit in the top 10 languages spoken in Washington state. The toolkit would be made available digitally on the Attorney General’s website, and a hard-copy version would be made available to law enforcement agencies and other relevant agencies that could be distributed to the public.
“Lucian’s disappearance has been devastating to the family and our local community, as well as across the state. Our prayers remain with the family,” said Mosbrucker. “This toolkit may help families navigate the most difficult day of their life. When a loved one goes missing, there’s this incredible feeling of helplessness. We want to fill that gap and give people additional guidance so they know what to do. That’s what this toolkit would provide.”
If the bill becomes law, the first version of the missing persons toolkit would be published by Nov. 1, 2023.
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